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Prayer of the Guest Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives: Rabbi Barton G. Lee on 13 March 1980

https://opensiddur.org/?p=54661 Prayer of the Guest Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives: Rabbi Barton G. Lee on 13 March 1980 2024-03-09 12:29:59 The Opening Prayer given in the U.S. House of Representatives on 13 March 1980. Text the Open Siddur Project Barton G. Lee Barton G. Lee the Congressional Record of the United States of America https://opensiddur.org/copyright-policy/ Barton G. Lee https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/ Opening Prayers for Legislative Bodies United States of America English vernacular prayer U.S. House of Representatives Prayers of Guest Chaplains 96th Congress 20th century C.E. תחינות teḥinot 58th century A.M.
Guest Chaplain: Rabbi Barton G. Lee, Hillel Foundation, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona
Sponsor: Rep. Martin Frost (D-TX)
Date of Prayer: 13 March 1980

Mr. FROST. Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to introduce a longtime personal friend of mine who delivered the opening prayer this morning, Rabbi Barton Lee, Barton grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and has had a longstanding interest in politics. As a teenager, he stood on street corners passing out literature for Ralph Yarborough, former longtime Senator from Texas. Both of us were active in the Texas-Oklahoma Federation of Temple Youth, where he proved to be a good politician himself, serving as regional president of that organization. Rabbi Lee received his undergraduate degree from Stanford University, California, and his rabbinical training from Hebrew Union College at Cincinnati, Ohio. He comes to us from Tempe, Arizona, where he has been with the Hillel Foundation, Union of Jewish Students at Arizona State University, for a number of years. Rabbi Lee and his wife, Marcie, continue to reside in Tempe, Arizona.


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Contribute a translationSource (English)
Master of the universe:
You fashioned us with sparks of holiness,
summoning us to reflect your divine image.[1] Find Genesis 1:26-27, Genesis 2:7, and Genesis 5:1-3. On the history of this idea, the scholar Rabbi Louis Jacobs (1920-2006) writes: “The belief that there is a special mystical ‘spark’ in every human breast can be traced back, in western mysticism, at least to Jerome in the fourth century. Both Bonaventura and Bernard of Clairvaux speak of this mystical organ; the latter, calling it scintillula, a small spark of the soul, and speaking of the nearness of God, said: ‘Angels and archangels are within us, but He is more truly our own who is not only with us but in us.’ However, both these mystics are anxious to prevent an identification of this mystical spark with the divine. Eckhart, on the other hand, embraces the identification, calling the spark, among other endearing names, das Kleidhaus Gottes, ‘the house in which God attires Himself ’. This and other pantheistic tendencies in Eckhart’s thought were condemned in the papal Bull of 1529…” (in “The Doctrine of the ‘Divine Spark’ in Man in Jewish SourcesStudies in Rationalism, Judaism and Universalism, ed. Raphael Loewe (Humanities: 1966) 87-114.) For those more familiar with Quaker theology, a similar belief is shared by George Fox (1624-1691). 
As we share Your creative work—
aiding the needy,
helping the ailing,
freeing the fettered—
our lives are infused with meaning;
we gain a stake in eternity.
God,
strengthen us,
your partners in creation.
Give us the wisdom
not to overestimate our achievements
nor to underestimate our power
to do good.
Give us candor to criticize ourselves,
energy to correct our faults,
determination to bring forth the best
that is within us.
Help us create a nation where every person matters,
civic institutions dedicated to compassion and justice
and national unity predicated on the Psalmist’s words:
“turn from evil, do good,
seek peace and pursue it.” (Psalms 34:15[2] Cf. Pirkei Avot 1.12 in the name of Hilel the Elder. )

This prayer of the guest chaplain was offered in the third month of the second session of the 96th US Congress in the House of Representatives, and published in the Congressional Record, vol. 126, part 5 (1980), page 5455.

Source(s)

Congressional Record, vol. 126, part 5 (13 March 1980), p. 5455

 

Notes

Notes
1Find Genesis 1:26-27, Genesis 2:7, and Genesis 5:1-3. On the history of this idea, the scholar Rabbi Louis Jacobs (1920-2006) writes: “The belief that there is a special mystical ‘spark’ in every human breast can be traced back, in western mysticism, at least to Jerome in the fourth century. Both Bonaventura and Bernard of Clairvaux speak of this mystical organ; the latter, calling it scintillula, a small spark of the soul, and speaking of the nearness of God, said: ‘Angels and archangels are within us, but He is more truly our own who is not only with us but in us.’ However, both these mystics are anxious to prevent an identification of this mystical spark with the divine. Eckhart, on the other hand, embraces the identification, calling the spark, among other endearing names, das Kleidhaus Gottes, ‘the house in which God attires Himself ’. This and other pantheistic tendencies in Eckhart’s thought were condemned in the papal Bull of 1529…” (in “The Doctrine of the ‘Divine Spark’ in Man in Jewish SourcesStudies in Rationalism, Judaism and Universalism, ed. Raphael Loewe (Humanities: 1966) 87-114.) For those more familiar with Quaker theology, a similar belief is shared by George Fox (1624-1691).
2Cf. Pirkei Avot 1.12 in the name of Hilel the Elder.

 

 

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